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SAN FRANCISCO-The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has approved approximately $9 million in federal grant money to carry out environmental studies on a proposed $110-million project to connect Hunters Point Shipyard to U.S. Highway 101 with a new bridge.

City officials say that the demilitarized shipyard is the focus point of a major new 500-acre development project that would feature a mix of housing, retail, office and industrial space. In addition, the 49ers football team is rumored to be considering the shipyard as a possibility for a new stadium.

The football team has been negotiating since 1997 to build a new stadium at Candlestick Park, but the project has been delayed several times. Sources indicate that the team may be ready to move on.

Since the federal government shut down the 500-acre base almost 30 years ago, development of the blighted property has been extremely slow. The U.S. Navy is expected to transfer the shipyard to the City of San Francisco in 2003, at which point the city plans to start redeveloping the area.

The $9.4 million federal grant will go toward an environmental study for the proposed South Basin Bridge, which will determine exactly where the bridge would be built and how to position it to maximize its benefits while minimizing its environmental impacts, including increased traffic and noise.

The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency will provide another $2.3 million for the studies to examine additional issues, including water habitat, hazardous materials and traffic. These studies are expected to take about three years to complete.

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